Riippi’s terse, brutal novel is recounted by three different narrators whose idiosyncratic voices dovetail. A pair of siblings and a disenchanted playwright. The novel is set largely on the East Coast (New York) and the West, (Seattle), with both cities casting their shadow over proceedings. It’s a deliberately fragmentary book, assembled from a clutch of interconnected anecdotes and memories, which get shared around by the three characters. There’s considerable skill in the way the writing will throw out a reference which the reader can’t quite pin down; where did it occur previously, who owned this image before? Into this lattice-work effect the writer stitches scenes of cruelty; a man loses his infant child; a woman recovers from a brutal rape; her brother is in hospital because he cannot control his violent urges. This is dog-end America, a country you probably don’t want to know, where the legacy of 911 generates racism and suspicion. It’s a slender, desperate text which, in spite of its erudition, never has that smug tone which too many US writers cannot avoid. The voices it grants space to feel genuinely on edge, carved out of nightmares which contain no redemption.